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Poetry and Medicine
August 8, 2012

October Crossing

Author Affiliations

Poetry and Medicine Section Editor: Charlene Breedlove, Associate Editor. Poems may be submitted to jamapoems@jamanetwork.org.

Author Affiliation: Department of Orthopedics, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio (jason.eubanks@uhhospitals.org).

JAMA. 2012;308(6):548. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3631

The road is two miles long,
the day 24 hours wide,
yet the buck crosses the pavement
at just the same spot,
with sibling tincture
of light and night,
heading in the very direction,
with the self-same inebriated, rut-glaze
that led another to leap before us,
his massive frame
a jolting thud against the hood,
his dark eyes and reaching tongue
slipping from an almost aquiline face,
rolling up against the windshield,
before her brake sent him
tumbling, trembling down.
I watched the officer raise his gun
and then it was done . . . 
Twenty years have passed—
I was a boy sitting in the smashed Volkswagen
next to one who would take her life—
did his leap empower her?—
a bullet to the head,
sitting in a car, alone,
awash in that delirious glaze
that drives us across roads
we shouldn't traverse,
in light we can't clearly see by.
Today's buck survives
the killing of the past,
his midnight silhouette disappearing
into the still clinging golden leaves.
This then shall be my cue—
that death I have died to,
twice spared,
I must not return,
but leave the road behind
for the world of yellow leaves
brightening in the warming
glow of morning sun.